Our first doctor visit was this past Thursday.
There was a barrage of questions to be answered and we had plenty to ask. Then, the examining room. And the table. One with stirrups. Guys don't have tables like that, so what followed was what you might call a new experience for me. One that's probably pretty rare for a guy to experience except in a case like this, or if he's a gyno. I'm not saying I'm scarred or anything, far from it. I'm just saying that I can check this off my list, even though it hadn't really been on the list until I walked thru the door.
The exam over, we moved to the main event--the sonogram (or ultrasound; the terms are interchangeable).
Home pregnancy tests are very accurate these days, like 99% accurate, or so all the boxes say. And as you can see below, the one we got was very 21st century. No confusion over a blue line or a purple cross or anything like that. In no uncertain terms, an LCD screen with the word, "Pregnant." March 22nd & 23rd were pretty surreal for us, for me at least. Here was this thing you buy at the Walgreen's telling you there was a little person growing inside you(r wife). That can kinda blow your mind because there's a bit of intangibility going on with it. Yeah, the box says it's 99% accurate, more than that even, but is it really? I mean you don't even have to talk to the pharmacist to get one, though sometimes you'd like a college-educated degree holder to at least give you a thumbs up--"EPT? That's my brand!"--, as opposed to the checkout clerk just asking if you want a receipt.
And then there's the emotions.
Excitement: "Holy shit, we're preggers!"
Anxiety: "We've got so much to do and we're already behind."
Joy: "My boys can swim!"
Fear: "How can I do this?"
Wonder: "Oh. My. God."
Trepidation: "Oh. My. God."
They were all there; to say otherwise would be a disservice to the Truth. If I'd forgotten what it was like to ride a rollercoaster, that weekend certainly brought it back.
Our box came with two tests, so on Monday the 24th, Pam did the second one. Same readout on the LCD--"Pregnant." We'd been turned on to a doctor by a friend of hers so Pam called to set up an appointment. They wouldn't set up an appointment until she was eight weeks along. That timed out with when I would be in California working the Coachella music festival (Prince!), and she wanted me to go with her, and I wanted to go with her, so the appointment was scheduled for May 1st, after I got back. They told her they'd do a sonogram to confirm that yes, there was a baby present.
Argh. Just over a month of waiting for what for me would be final super doubleplusgood confirmation. We're talking visual, baby, or maybe that should be: visual baby. Some things you can tell me and I'll believe it, take it on faith. And there are certain other things that I need to see with my own two eyes to believe, in spite of whatever the FDA approved-Walgreen's sold-99% accurate-21st century marvel of technology might have told me. Seeing an image, however blob-like I imagined it might be, would make it real. Tangible.
Until then, to know what was happening, we would have to rely on what we read. Pam subscribed to weekly updates from babycenter.com to tell us how things were progressing. Each week, they compared our embryonic-American to a new fruit or vegetable. Lentil. Blueberry. Kidney bean. Grape. And tell us how it was growing--what systems and features were developing, the appearance of what would be hands and feet, the first beats of its heart. It was fascinating, yet still intangible.
And sometimes it made me hungry. Mmmm... kidney beans.
The doctor put some jel--(I should introduce her, she's only probably going to be the 4th major character here. The name's Binford, Dr. Nancy Binford (old picture)). So she put some jelly on a thing (she called it a wand, but I was not reminded of Harry Potter) and inserted it. (Sidebar: at this stage of the game, The Grape is still too small to be seen by a sonogram sliding over the belly, so this one is vaginal. It's like a PSA, people: the more you know....)
"Yup, there's a baby in there," Dr. Binford said.
She turned the monitor so we both could see it.
And it (the image, not the kid) was so much more than just the blob I thought it might be. Maybe it's because it's a profile view, but I was so glad that I could instantly tell what was what. All the other ones I've seen have to point out what's the head, the hands, the feet. Or maybe our embryonic-American just kicks total ass. Regardless, The Grape was now much more.
Now, I just wanted to hear that heartbeat. I needed to hear it. And then, as if on cue, Dr. Binford said, "Let's see if we can hear that little heart beat." She flipped a switch. (or maybe she hit a button. My eyes were, obviously, transfixed elsewhere.)
And there it was. (This is a sample of a 13 week fetus; what we heard was faster.) 164 beats per minute, a very healthy drum n bass beat.
Visual and aural tangibility.
Dr. Binford may have said something else but I couldn't hear much of anything over the rush of endorphins and tingling in my temples. At that moment, I had neither fear nor anxiety, just love and a desire to see what would happen next....
...we're in week ten now... kumquat, in case you were wondering.